ST. PAUL, Minn. – Approximately 3,000 more children will be able to participate in state funded preschool and early-learning programs than was possible in 2016.
Dayton and the legislature agreed in session this year to an additional $50 million in funding for these preschool programs. The new funding will see the state fund 59 new public preschool programs, in addition to the 74 such programs it was already funding in years prior, Dayton’s office said in a press release.
This expands the pool of four-year-olds attending these state funded programs from 3,000 to roughly 6,100 students.
The Pioneer Press reports that this increase in its current form is only temporary however. The new funding is likely to dry up by 2019.
For Dayton this increase is not nearly enough, as he has long been a proponent of universal pre-kindergarten education across the state. He had been seeking $175 million in new funding for such programs rather than the $50 million that was agreed to.
“I thank the many legislators who supported these investments to combat our state’s persistent achievement gaps,” Dayton said in the press release. “However, I regret that with a $1.65 billion surplus, the Legislature would not provide the funding needed to ensure all Minnesota four-year-olds have access to these crucial learning opportunities.”
His office notes in the press release that a total of 223 Minnesota public school districts and charter schools applied for funding regarding early-learning and preschool programs. If they had all been funded, the governor’s office estimates they would have served 12,000 more students compared with 2016. As such the 59 programs funded cover 3,000 more students.
Four school districts are receiving over $1 million in funding for these programs. These include the Minneapolis, St. Paul, Osseo, and Robbinsdale public school districts.